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Message from the Superintendent

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8/14/17

 

Happy New Year! For those of you who were with us last year, you already know that I celebrate the new year at the start of the school year rather than on January 1. One of the things that I love about the new year is that it is a chance to start fresh with new beginnings and new ideas.

 

This summer I completed my first year as the Superintendent of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. My commitment to you during my first year was to get to know you. That was my number one priority last year -- to build trust and relationships. I did this through meeting with each school site staff and parent community, held town halls, talked to special education parents, teachers, staff, community members, service organizations, elected officials, business leaders and partner agencies. My takeaway from these conversations was that you are all committed to the success of our students and staff. And that is heartening.

 

We had many successes last year including the opening of a brand new elementary school, a partnership with the San Ramon Valley Education Foundation to fund technology for our students, several schools earning “No Place for Hate” designations, ongoing academic achievement and fantastic teaching and learning taking place daily in each of our schools.

 

In many ways, last year was not an easy year. We had several hateful incidents and challenges that in some cases captured media attention.  However, we have learned several very important lessons, primarily that we have more work to do when it comes to cultural responsiveness and customer service to better support our parents, students and staff. As the leaders of our schools returned in July, that was the message that I delivered to them.

 

I also shared our leadership priorities for the coming year, placing them alongside the priorities that I had shared last year. I’d like to also share these priorities with you.

 

2017-2018

 

Clearly and effectively communicate and execute our Framework for Excellence, with a customer service mindset, while holding ourselves accountable as leaders.

 

  • Offer a cohesive curriculum, instruction and assessment program aligned to State Standards with an emphasis on each student’s personal and academic growth while eliminating barriers.

 

  • Deliberately prioritize and provide a world-class education where our focus on Inclusion, Cultural Responsiveness and Response to Intervention ensures that each student, employee and family feels safe and respected.

 

  • Expand opportunities for student, family and staff choice, improve student wellness, and enhance staff working conditions while potentially saving the district millions of dollars.

 

  • Continually evaluate results and cautiously allocate resources that lead to ongoing improvement.

 

If you’ve been to one of my talks before, you will know that some of these priorities are the same as last year as we will always be focused on offering great curriculum and instruction that is aligned to standards, based on ongoing assessments and focused on ensuring that we are eliminating barriers to support each student’s personal and academic growth.

 

This work centers on our Framework for Excellence and the District’s four key initiatives of:

 

  • Cultural Responsiveness

  • Inclusion

  • Response to Intervention

  • California State Standards

 

However, this year, on the heels of some of the climate issues that we dealt with last year, we will rededicate our efforts along the lines of helping all of us be more tolerant. This work begins with mandatory professional development for staff, enters the classroom and will extend this year into the community. We have formed a Community Action Group for Cultural Responsiveness, which we hope will provide a platform for our community to come together to share best practices and ideas.

 

Looking to the future, as you will see noted in our priorities, we are focused on looking for opportunities to provide more student, family and staff choice. We believe this will not only improve student wellness as they have more flexibility to find opportunities for balance while achieving success but will also enhance staff working conditions. All of which will lead to better environments in the future for our schools. You will be hearing much more of this in the coming months.

 

In my next column, I will share more about these plans as well as highlight the academic reporting information coming from our annual state assessments, as well as Advanced Placement, ACT and SAT exams.  However, it is important to remember that our students successes are not just measured by test scores and assessment results.  The overall emotional and social well-being of our students is critical to ensuring that they live a balanced and healthy life.  SRVUSD is invested in educating the whole child through a balanced approach to teaching and learning.

 

Once again, this fall, I will be visiting several of our school sites and hold parent meetings throughout the District to provide an opportunity for 2-way communications with our community on these topics and others that are of interest to you. The meetings will be held centrally at our middle schools. Please feel free to attend the meeting that is most convenient for you.

 

I am very much looking forward to the start of school. I wish you a great first day back to school and a Happy New Year!

 

Warm Regards,


 

Rick Schmitt

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